During a parliamentary debate on inclusion, Liberal politician, Mark Parton lamented the lack of support for heterosexual, white males over 30, saying they were “not really included in anything.”
The backlash was swift and predictable with comments like, “Gotta love it when privileged white men claim they have no privilege.”
Well, that’s not exactly what I said. Some will still attack me when they see the whole speech, but others will understand the context. pic.twitter.com/sIO1Y2wj6w
— Mark Parton (@markparton) September 20, 2017
Gender and equality advocate, Virginia Haussegger, also weighed in claiming Parton’s comments were “offensive to all those not part of that privileged class”.
“White men aged over 30 rule the majority of Australia’s publicly listed companies, they overwhelmingly control the boards, our financial institutions and our banks and operate in workplace environments that severely lack gender and ethnic diversity,” Haussegger said.
Why, when we talk about white heterosexual males, do we always paint them as rich, powerful individuals who are the unapologetic recipients of years of unfettered privilege? Not every white guy is the CEO of a Fortune 500 company or a political powerbroker. There are plenty of ill-educated, under-employed blokes who are struggling and who probably feel like they’ve never experienced a day of privilege in their life.
We seem so committed to dividing society into easily digestible labels that we forget people are more complex and nuanced than that. And if, every time a man puts their hand up to ask for help, we tell them to shut up because they've had their time, we're just as bad as everything we're fighting against.
Equality should be about working towards a situation where EVERYONE is equal. It's not about telling men they've had it too good for too long or if they're struggling, "It's about time you knew what it felt like."
Depression and suicide are huge issues for men and it's something we should be talking about. But, when somebody stands up and says there's a lot of attention on the plight of some groups but not much on blokes, why do we go straight to the "You have no right to speak because you're privileged" argument?
Surely, we can't stand here asking for a louder voice while simultaneously telling another group of people to shut up.
This isn't a zero-sum game and we need to stop playing it like it is.
Parton wasn't saying minorities and groups who receive funding should have that money taken away. He was merely making the point that, "When we commit to inclusion, we shouldn't be picking favourites, we should be including everyone."
What's so wrong with that?
Rachel Corbett is Mamamia’s Director of Podcasts. She’s also a writer, TV/radio presenter and the creator of the online podcasting course, PodSchool.com.au.
Rachel currently hosts two podcasts including You’ve Gotta Start Somewhere and the PodSchool Podcast. She’s also never been to a John Farnham concert where she didn’t cry (tears of joy).
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